Prairie Summer

“Prairie Summer”, “La Sabranenque” and “Leaves”

In Poetry by Sabrina L'Heureux

Three poems by Sabrina L'Heureux

Prairie Summer

I kneel in grass gone crisp with July,

part stalks of raspberry bushes

finger-tips blooming red, knees smudged

and dimpled by the small hardness of pebbles.


Overhead, a Whiskey Jack attempts to thieve

a few spilled berries, while I pretend

not to notice.


From my rooftop, I'm sure I could see fields

gold with canola, their brightness shocking

in early dusk.


I dig fingers into the earth, searching

for moisture, my garden spade

ready to carve out a spot for a few Asters,

bring some patience to my garden.


Here beyond the mountains, I'm learning

a different kind of summer, one dry

and windy and ever rolling

with a green sometimes overwhelming.

 

La Sabranenque

In the kitchen, steam billows from pots

and strips of zucchini soften.

Lazy flies hover near the steam,

tasting my knuckles as I peel

cloves of garlic, smashing each one

on the steel countertop, grating

until my fingers are raw.


They will smell of garlic for weeks.


I escape the heat and flies

for the cool courtyard,

eyes wet with the sting of red onion,

the peel sticks to my fingertips

like children at an apron’s hem.


Outside, another volunteer swings

the lettuce dry, round and round

in a wire basket, a light rain

dotting the stone steps.


I know that uphill, work has not ceased.

The pound of hammer against rock echoes

to the courtyard, interrupts this moment

of silent rest. The stomp of footsteps goes on,

hands lugging quarried stone to the wall

each worker searching

for a place to lay their paving stone.


What I don’t know is that

I will miss this heat,

glistening scorpions,

and mortar-burned fingertips;

stone pitchers of wine,

the climb to the castle each morning

and even, perhaps

the hand-sized spiders

and the way they hover

above your bed,

on walls, in shoes,

wondering how long

you will stay

and when you will return.

Leaves

I

In this forest, the deserted path

waits for snow. For now,

it is littered with leaves like gold

coins marking the way home. More

permanent than breadcrumbs, if only

you would follow.


II

I find them fluttering

like love-notes on the front seat,

beneath the steering wheel,

in the cracks of the glove compartment.


Hours earlier, the open sunroof

on a prairie sky day,

blue and yellow horizons,

seemed a good idea.


III

You toss them in the air,

smile as I take your picture,

and you are a goddess

in this Northern forest, a bright treasure

in the soon barren landscape.

And when I can’t snap the shutter

in time, I want to grasp your shoulders,

your waist, your hair, and say

there, stay

so I can memorize your hands

unfurling golden fall, hips turned

toward me like a kiss

and the leaves landing,

like clumsy hands,

in your hair,

at your feet.


IV


Remember the year

autumn never came at all.

The aspen leaves trembling

green then gone,

brushed under a skirt of snow.

No time for fall,

when winter sweeps in so fast,

settles down knee deep,

heels dug in to stubborn ground.


I remember how we tried

to make warmth that year,

the aspen chopped to kindle a fire—

and you, knitting our hope-

chest full. Even now,

I recognize the signs.

About the Author

Sabrina L'Heureux

Sabrina L’Heureux is a poet and French teacher on Vancouver Island, BC. Her poetry has previously appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, online at Goblin Fruit, and in the anthology “Unfurled: poetry by Northern BC women”.